Bridging cultures: Bilingual and multilingual international schools on the move


The number of bilingual and multilingual international schools has increased over the past five years. No longer a left-field option, multilingual schools provide lifelong benefits for every learner and meet the needs of today’s more mobile and culturally diverse families.

A multilingual or bilingual education means much more than learning how to order cake with cream in German or parsing a verb. To write, speak and understand another language is to have a unique window on and appreciation of the country’s culture.

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“Language above all is a culture,” says Françoise Zurbach, Head of French-English bilingual international school, EIFA, based in Marylebone, London, in a recent Relocate Global webinar on the subject. “It’s the whole block: the language, the culture, the emotion. How we speak to people changes according to the language.”

With global citizenship front of mind and internationally mobile families frequently blending more than one cultural identity and heritage, the ability to speak and learn in multiple languages builds cultural awareness and sense of self – a critical aspect of healthy transitions for third-culture kids.

Bilingualism and multilingualism also nurture understanding of different perspectives and create valuable connections that would otherwise go missed.

“Often parents are multiple passport holders and languages,” says Johanna Mitchell, Director of Lumos Education, an education and relocation consultancy. “They want their children to have a sense of global mobility and global awareness. Being bilingual or multilingual gives their children opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.”

By Ruth Holmes

Source: Relocatemagazine.com

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